Thom Peterson at The House of Magic
Wednesday, 5th May
Reviewed by Dr P W Cox
Wednesday the 5th of May saw the first lecture at Stourbridge's House of Magic since the business changed hands recently. To be honest the new proprietor Stuart Millward had his work cut out as the list of previous speakers includes Ali Bongo, Charles Gauci, Alan Shaxon, etc. But succeed he did and with great aplomb. It must be said that attending a lecture in a real magic shop, as opposed to a rented village hall or meeting room, lends the proceedings a certain enhancing quality. It's nice to be able to scan the room whilst waiting for a lecture to start and see magic surrounding you as opposed to slightly mildewing or faded velvet curtains. So much so, that I was reading Harry Lorayne's Best of Friends when Stuart announced the lecture and I was slightly loathed to put it down. However, I'm glad I did as Thom proved to be an excellent lecturer.
So enter Thom Peterson. First up was a stylish cabaret opener within which we witnessed an appearance; in this case a lemon, a transposition; the lemon becomes lemonade complete with straw, ice cubes and a slice, and finally a kicker ending of a bottle from shoe. Ok so nothing new under the sun but when placed together and along with Thom's comedy and bits of business all the elements combined to form a very nice opening to the lecture. Indeed as a trick it succeeded in a number of ways: the appearance, transposition, kicker knocks the pants off the standard glass from jacket opener but with only little more effort, plus as an opener to a lecture it was direct and inviting. This was particularly true when Tom stepped us through the routine and as the subtleties he employs were shown the finesse with which the trick was originally routined became more and more apparent. The beauty and usability of the material presented by Thom was obvious in every effect he showed, and he did quite a few which made the entry monies seem really good value. All the effects could be incorporated into a working act immediately.
Once more the side business, and bits of by play
with each of the tricks were golden, as personally I am finding less and less
time to perform magic, but the day job (the reason for curtailed magic time!)
involves a lot of public speaking and Thom's lecture was as much an object
lesson in maintaining an audiences attention as it was in magical effects or
technique I was well satisfied. Anyway I digress, the highlight of quite a
packed first half was a torn and restored card routine entitled Chapie and we re
not talking dog food here! It was a great trick, worth the admission price by
itself. A simple enough premise but executed beautifully (and for the purists
appropriately referenced throughout). Finally an ultimate conclusion, that in
Thom's own words, leads to a Prolonged Scooby Doo Moment that wide eyed
astonishment without the need to clap like seals that lasts for a much longer
time than is usual. Inevitably, the first half was wrapped up with the
lecturer's pitch of the material they have on offer. Ordinarily at this point I
switch off or when a lecturer points to a shabby pile of scrap A4 and says only
£10 for the notes I quite often run for the hills. Not so with Thom and this was
to his credit and if the unintentional reverse psychology worked to his wallet s
credit as well. No, I was pleasantly pleased by the low-key way in which I was
invited to buy. I was even more impressed by the quality, gone was the shabby
piles of A4 and hello glossy brochure style notes with gimmicks thrown in all
for a standard price.
Half time drinks over the lecture continued with a beautifully direct coin vanish and giant coin production called Kapow. Once more the ideas and subtlety behind the base movements and slights demonstrated Thom's working mind and real world experience. This simple, but amazingly direct trick was then followed by several mentalist effects, although as Thom has quite a repertoire we were asked if we wanted an emphasis on close up, cabaret or mental magic. Again each and every trick was elegant, well considered and above all useable. The final effect shown made use of the old Christmas cracker favourite the Fortune telling fish absolutely brilliant and again well thought out for corporate work as the fish forms a low cost but immensely memorable give away.
So as they always do the evening ended and the crowd drifted off home, but for once the lecture material was and still remains fresh in my memory, which I feel is the mark of a good lecture. In conclusion, well done to Thom and to Stu. The shop looks great the new effects are strong and thus far your list of lecturers has been exemplary. Keep it up dear chap!
© Dr P W Cox, May 2010